So I'm a Spider, So What? LN: Volumes 7-8


Ach ja, after volume 6 gave us a plethora of deep character introspection, the two following volumes are more focused on narrative and characterization through direct action. I also figured it would be best to talk about these two volumes separately, as they have relatively few overlaps and continue being told chronologically and in the case of volume 7, is even told continuously from same perspective. Let’s go.

Volume 7

“Potimas is a bastard!”

- White, Sophia, Merazophis, Dustin and Ariel

I doubt there is a lot to talk about volume 7 beyond the literal information we acquire. For the most part, it is one action set piece after another, mostly due to the fact that, if I understood the afterword correctly, the previous volume basically had none and this volume was to level it out again. I don’t think this was quite necessary, as I very much enjoy those moments of levity and respite, but I also won’t complain, as these action set pieces were honestly bonkers and very fun to read.

About a year has passed since our group of troublemakers started their journey for the Demon Territory and they are currently traversing the Northern Wastelands. We learn some information about what they did in the meantime, like how Sophia and the puppet spiders have started vocal training, as she, due to mostly relying on telepathy, developed a lisp and White still hasn’t quite figured out how to recreate vocal cords. I really enjoy those insights into the daily life of them, as it grounds them in reality and all of them are well rounded enough to carry the more mundane scenes.

We finally learn some of the history and deal about this world by way of explaining why the elves are so technologically advanced compared to the humans. Turns out it is actually the other way around. Initially, this world was way more advanced than earth, but with the exception of the elves, everything regressed to the state of your average isekai novel. This is such a cool premise for a fantasy world, especially for someone like me, whose one of their favorite tropes is the blending of magic and technology into a weird mixture full of mystery. We also finally learn about MA energy and how it is connected to the downfall of the planet.

In the desert White detects a giant underground base and decides to tunnel herself towards it (while casually destroying an ant monster colony). This facility is filled with your generic fantasy creatures, like automatic guns, robots and tanks. The two sides fight, the facility self-destructs(?) and upon reaching the surface again, a giant fucking UFO is in the sky! No, I didn’t make this stuff up and I really adore this series for it.

This is where the real conflict starts. As already suspected, both the elves and the Word of God religion kept an eye on the group and it didn’t take long for Ariel, Potimas, Dustin and even Gülie to get together Avengers style. However, it is not the “End of the movie with a cool hero shot” Avenger style, but “The middle of the movie with everyone being very eager to get at each others throat” Avengers style. The resulting discussion on how to handle the subject at hand is one of the most tense moments in the series up to date, with each side having different stakes and opportunities involved. While the UFO carries a whole army of futuristic machines, the main problem lies in the accompanying bomb capable of flattening the entire continent – something no party involved is happy waiting to happen – meaning they form a sort of united front. No truce, though. Backstabbing is part of the course.

It is in the specific way this make-shift coalition decides to approach their threat that Potimas finally crystallizes as a really fun and intriguing antagonist. Potimas basically holds all the chips all the time in this situation. He is indirectly the reason this UFO is even a thing, is essentially the only one capable of stopping it, but also has the least amount to loose in the process. In his own words, his main objective is stopping the bomb and everything beyond is a net positive. He brings barely enough soldiers, as to only guarantee a close win, so everyone else suffers heavy losses and tries his hardest to make this battle a living hell for everyone involved. After some time, he even blatantly states that he tries to kill Ariel and White if the opportunity arises and no one can do anything about it. For all intents and purposes, he is a bastard.

Meanwhile, the Word of God religion have their own agenda, though having their hands tied, these guys are the biggest looser here. Having already caught a glimpse in the previous novel, Dustin tries to hide all traces of past technology and any involvement of the reincarnations, leading him to essentially sacrifice 30.000 soldiers as meat shields to buy time for Ariel’s troops to sweep the machines. Ariel summons all the remaining four Queen Taratects, which I thought was a weird show of power in a moment that doesn’t really justify itself in the context of sticking it either to Potimas or Dustin, but considering how her group actually needs to get rid of the machines as to further progress their journey, I guess this checks out.

Gülie is also involved in the fight, though he is pushed aside to not solve this conflict in a heartbeat deal with another threat. The UFO was not the only object escaping the underground, meaning Gülie has to go to space to stop a machine which is programmed to chuck meteors towards the planet… I swear, I do not make this stuff up. While he is in space, we learn some more interesting aspects of the world. Firstly, Gülie is part of a species named the true dragons and is currently the only one on the planet, as every other true dragon just… left… which makes me imagine how a couple of dragons try their best to manoeuver space via their breath attacks. Secondly, the system responsible for the skills, etc. is not omnipresent, but spatially bound to the very planet, though Gülie also mentions he never had to rely on the system anyway and is capable of wielding his power on his own. Neat world building all around.

This volume also continues the well regarded trend of giving one-off side characters a decent amount of characterization in the form of the wind dragon Hyuvan. Beyond just being a fun guy, he gets his own scene showing off his genuine badassery and respect towards White via one hell of a speech. I mean, it is still played as a joke in the end, but the fact he was willing to sacrifice himself for his aneki White out of a sense of duty is still peak. He also has this manner of speaking, as if he pretends to act like a rough yakuza grunt, which baffled me at first, as I didn’t expect him to sound like this, considering the only dragons prior to him were rather prideful and noble in their attitude. I also made it infinitely worse by making him sound like the worst “1950s Brooklyn mob character” impression possible in my head.

After an awesome dogfight against fighter jets, Ariel, Potimas and White enter the UFO, but not without some difficulties. As the UFO has the same shield as Potimas, normal magic isn’t able to damage the hull and it was time to take out the big guns. White riding Hyuvan and shooting a big RPG is definitely an image. However, the RPG also almost kills White, which turns out to be one of Potimas' attempts to get out much more out of this situation than simply the big bomb not going off. Needless to say, Ariel decked him and went full dom on his ass, literally stepping on him and even asking White to partake in his humiliation. Actually, White takes it a bit farther and… let’s just say “going full dom on his ass” can be taken quite literally. Beyond just being funny, I really liked the way this was framed. The both of them can not kill Potimas body and he is still in a position of power, but there is one area still vulnerable: His giant ego. So what better way to hurt him, than to degrade and embarrass him? In fact, Potimas can be even more childish than some of our other candidates, which actually make a weird through line for this series in general, in how the more power one wields, the less responsible they tend to be.

The exploding weapon also has another implication. Potimas originally planned for Ariel to use it, but she relayed the RPG to White, fully knowing she would most likely use it, which again begs the question what the specific relationship between Ariel and White is. Looking at it with a clear head, there really shouldn’t be any strife between the two of them. After all, White literally just resisted Mother’s kin control, which lead to them fighting, but they are not really enemies in a normal sense. Ariel has also found out the secret behind her “immortality”, but didn’t bother attacking White since. Considering they are also already journeying together for over a year, continuing their cold war simply seems childish at best. Luckily, we finally get a more definitive answer. After Potimas backstabs the duo yet again, Ariel takes the blow for White. It is in this moment White finally decides what side to take and swears to fight alongside Ariel. To be frank, I wanted to shout “Fuck him up!!!” so much, though I still have enough self-control… yet.

You also have to simply respect Potimas' grind. Reduced to a talking head, he still tries his best and when he eventually fails, he simply goes “Well, it was worth a try. Aaanyway…” and Ariel and White simply accept it matter of fact. Anyway, before he is able to disable the bomb, it threatens to self-destruct, but fear not, for White is here to save the day. She ate the bomb… She… she ate the bomb. I actually appreciate the insight on her thought process on this one. I mean, the thought process was essentially blank, but it was given nonetheless. From there on, it is kinda hard to describe what happened, though the bottom line is that White underwent deification, met D, gained a new name and is now a god (in the definition of this world).

Cool, so she is even more overpowered now? Well, yes but actually no. While she basically absorbed all the energy in the bomb, she is currently unable to use it, as becoming a god unlinks you from the system and strips you of all stats, skills and titles. Turns out the “System” is partly just a support system to help you with magic and stuff. To be fair, White was “only” stripped of her training wheels and put straight on a motor machine, to steal her metaphor, and we also already know that this is no insurmountable obstacle for her. She has already managed using magic without actually having obtained the corresponding skill by copying Araba and her attack on Mother’s soul was, according to D, not system-supported. But for now, robbed of her skills et al, she is weak.

So yeah, White was actually nerfed.

Volume 8

And she stays nerfed!

Beyond just missing her stats, she is no longer in possession of her spider body, only rocking two boring legs, and she also suffers from albinism, meaning she isn’t just useless, but also quite literally a burden on everyone else. She basically turns back into a shut-in, which, thematically speaking, wraps around to become funny again. It also gives some space for other characters in the spotlight.

While still being told chronologically, we are back at it again with several perspectives and once again giving due credit to the unfortunate side characters having to deal with the incoming madness. It also features a rather drastic tone-shift compared to the previous volumes. While this series can get pretty intense at times, it also never looses its sense of uplifting moments, but ignoring White’s perspective, this volume definitely goes towards places and is essentially a story about how a simple act of injustice can spiral into a large-scale tragedy.

So, White’s not the only one being reincarnated as a monster with Kyouya Sasajima being born a goblin. I really like this series interpretation of the goblins archetype, being not inherently hostile or aggressive towards humans and mostly living their own lives in the mountains. Kyouya’s point of view beautifully underscores the almost idyllic and simple nature of their kind and, unlike White at the time, appreciates being reborn into a nice community. However, this peace can only last so long and he mostly looks back at his past in sorrow, while he is currently filled with wrath and accumulates probably the highest (individual) body count out of all the characters. While we frequently are given hints as to what induced this change, it is only at the very end that we can appreciate how truly tragic his circumstances turned. It also once again makes me realize just how much I like the story structure of this series, weaving the individual perspectives into one coherent narrative.

I also appreciate how Kyouya’s characterization thematically leads perfectly into his evolution to Wrath. He described his former self as an ally of the weak, but mostly did so via his fists and thus gained a rather bad reputation without accomplishing much change, even leading him to go out of his way to attend a highschool where no one would recognize him. Now being reborn, he is once again pushed into the position of the protector of the weak, but is unable to accomplish what he sets out to do, resulting in frustration from not being able to do anything, him wandering about aimlessly and making sense of his own wrath, until he eventually fully succumbs to it. It almost reminds me of one of the most engaging aspects of Tsukihime with Wrath trying to keep his sanity and regretting his actions, while also unable to stop himself from causing further harm. There is this one scene with Wrath deciding to visit his old home again in an attempt to calm down, but forgets where he was headed halfway through and goes mad again.

It also doesn’t help that Wrath is basically alone on his endless journey. The humans look at goblins the same way as your more average portrayal of evil monsters and, after him evolving into an ogre, even sent an army after him. The Word of God religion deliberately tried raising his Anger and Rage skill, our old buddy Ronandt has it personally out for him, as he suspects he is the reason his friend died, the ice dragon governing the Mystic Mountains actively decides to not not kill him on a technicality and even Sophia, after being attacked by him, while under the influence of wrath, doesn’t want him to survive, despite her knowing his circumstances due to being a fellow reincarnation. Surprisingly, his biggest allies might turn out to be White, who surprisingly recognized him, and Ariel out of what I might assume is sheer pity. Man has it rough (and continues to have it rough by what I have already read ahead in the next volume).

While Wrath has a very bad time, White and the group are stuck in the last town before the Mystic Mountains and have to deal with some complications on their own. One of the adventurers in the town figures out that Ariel is a demon and suspects similar of Sophia and Merazophis, but is ultimately hindered by the Word of God religion. Also, Potimas keeps not giving up on being a petty asshole. By the way, this is not a personal evaluation of his character, as him being a petty child is basically canon. This time, he wasn’t even hoping to accomplish anything of substance, but simply thought it would cause distress for the group if their former teacher Oka was somehow involved. Nothing really happens and both Sophia and Oka are unharmed, but the way he blatantly uses Oka just gives him a bit more spice as an antagonist. Keep it going, trash!

Lastly, there is Ronandt’s point of view. Remember Buirimus? This one beast tamer attacking White alongside Ronandt back in volume 3? Being fully blamed for the failure of the operation, he was banished to the Mystic Mountains. Shortly after, his child was also kidnapped. In the hopes of being able to return to his family, Buirimus desperately grabbed to any achievement he could present, resulting in him killing an entire goblin village and enslaving Wrath for his ability to create magic weapons. Ronandt, however, doesn’t know any of this and sees in Wrath only a beast that killed his friend, which gave us a pretty kick-ass fight scene and further insight on how the humans are dealing with their opponents.

Ironically, while this volume ends the current arc, not all lot is actually resolved and I thought the ending came a bit out of nowhere, leaving a lot more questions than answers. Wrath attacked White and Sophia, but this encounter not only ended in a draw, but gave neither party time to talk, the humans, or at least the Word of God religion, know what the demons are up to and Potimas continues not being an honest threat at the moment. So, what’s up with all this? I am very willing to find out.

Final Thoughts

As volume 8 didn’t really end on a specific note, I considered including volume 9 into this post. However, it does seem like a good cut-off point, as volume 9 begins with demon politics™ and I do not want to cover three volumes in a single post. Also, still no Shun, etc. in sight. I really wonder when we will get back to this cliffhanger at the end of volume 5. I mean, I can actually imagine it being the finale and the following novels simply expand on how it all came to this. However, I am also not complaining. It may be due to me already knowing the first novels via the anime, but I have a genuinely good time with the new volumes. While the first half of volume 7 was a bit of a letdown, it really caught itself with volume 8 and especially the story surrounding Wrath.

Theory time: I never really paid much attention to it, but in the “present”, Gülie is part of the demon army, or at least seems to fight under Ariel’s banner. What is up with that? Did Gülie finally get demoted after not listening to D almost all the time? Also, and I really hope the reason for this is an external one, where were the puppet spiders? I really hope Okina Baba just came up with them after writing volume 5, because if if not and the puppet spiders do not survive until the up to date events, then there will be blood! Seriously, they are very fun and adorable characters and I will not be able to handle their death.

Lastly… this series do be kinda woke, right? To be honest, speaking out against slavery really shouldn’t even be a bar to pass for isekai, but this isn’t even the reason why I think so. With the way MA energy and its usage was described, it is hard to not see it as a critique of current energy problems and how new technologies often overlook or create new problems and literally dropping a nuke and contaminating an entire area, solely for the purpose of hiding ones fuck-ups is definitely something. And most importantly, the human expansion into the Mystic Mountains and the prosecution of the goblins just is colonialism.

Unlike other fantasy stories, So I’m a Spider not only acknowledges the problematic elements of its world and the parallels to our real one, but also comments on them quite directly with a surprising amount of thought put into it. While I do not think one is able to get out a lot from a solely political reading, the fact that there is something to it makes this story multiple times more engaging than other stories that try it’s best to not even dib their toes into such topics. I couldn’t tell you anything about the slavery of beast girls in Shield Hero or Death March, however, I will remember elitism causing the tragedy that Wrath had to undergo. Again, it isn’t really my style to downplay other media, but considering how often So I’m a Spider simply owns other isekai, this is once aspect I wanted to highlight.

Weird rant aside, how am I at 3.500 words? I don’t want wondering about the word count to become a running joke at the end of these posts, but I held back on going too deep and basically said nothing? Also, why is me writing about volume 7 longer than volume 8, which actually had something to talk about?.. I will never understand this. Nai wa~.

So I’m a Spider, So What? (ePub) is available on BookWalker.

local_offer So I'm a Spider
calendar_today 2022